I sold my soul tonight. I didn’t want to. I actually tried begging off it. But it was where I had to go.
I was lying on the bed relaxing when I found myself reliving a drowning accident a couple years ago: the cool, clear water had closed over my head and 2-3 inches of shimmer separated me from my children’s faces and the crystal blue sky behind them. On that day, my young son had slipped into deep water and my two older boys were unable to overcome the current to pull him out. I dove to their rescue, but found the same thing: we could keep him above water, but at our own peril. Just as I was at the end of my lung capacity, my husband came from behind and, without fighting the current, was able to float our young son to safety. I shot instantly out of the water to a large rock 10 feet away. Even though shore was closer behind me, that rock was secure, in my line of sight, and out of the water. I was safe on my rock, and I thanked God profusely for saving us.
This time, though, was different. The video was the same, but now I was only rescuing myself. It was more of a vision than a nightmare; I was still aware of being on my bed. I was also very conscious of an increasing inability to breathe. As the panic fully welled up, I sensed an inaudible voice telling me to let go, stop struggling, and just allow myself to sink. It was clear; it was weird. But it was very real, and my heart was pounding. I realized that if I was going to get out of the water this time, it would not be my life with my agenda I would live; I was to seek God and His righteousness. I would walk out of there a different person.
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” The familiar words from my first guitar lesson ran through my head. I know it by heart; we are not to worry about clothes or food, for God will provide all we require. If we merely look to God instead of ourselves, “all these things will be added unto you, Hallelu, Hallelujah.” Even though I’ve had that song memorized since I was 12 and have sung it to every one of my children, it obviously had never really reached the depths of who I am, because I was being asked to choose my priorities with these words at the center. Either I can follow through with what I’ve professed all these years, or I can turn away and become Me. Which is it? How capable am I on my own?
I’d had a feeling this morning during my devotional time, studying that familiar passage, that something was different. The words were tugging at me. I prayed in the shower that I would seek God first – completely – today. That He would guide me in discerning what was His will.
But this evening I was tired. It’d been a long, stressful day and my duties were not done. And there I was, lying limply across the bed, unwilling to do anything more and not caring either way. My mind was incredibly clear in an inner conversation with God. I wondered who was actually talking, me or Him. Why was this incident being brought to mind, and why did it come with a choice this time? I let myself drift back to semi-consciousness. I saw again the water close with its sparkling ripples over my head, felt my chest constrict with breath, and sensed that I had to choose now. Would I truly put my life and future into the hands of this unseen God and trust that He would make all things right? I had no clue what I was joining back in junior high when I first decided to become a Christian. Now I know. It’s not about me and my desires; life is about being God’s hands and feet. But as much as I’ve tried to follow Scripture, every year is harder and I’ve racked up more, bigger failures. I see only hopelessness ahead. I’d like to jump off this world I know I’ve helped create for myself. Panic was welling up in my chest and nausea began coming over me in waves as I struggled with this decision. If what I’ve done so far has been right, why has nothing worked? With only diminishing returns, it is stupid to continue this path. But God says He will not forsake me. I have been relieved lately to finally understand Scripture and feel His presence by my side. He is real. I must stop struggling to survive on my own, in my own wisdom, and let Him do as He sees fit with me. I needed to let my self drown. Oh God, — ! Just then, I saw a cross above the pond that wasn’t there that summer and realized the significance. I will, again, come out of the water and dry off. He has already died – for me. If I will grasp onto this in faith, I can walk away. But I will not be Me anymore. I will be His and do what He tells me to do, which is whatever duty He puts at my hand. He will take care of the rest. I trade in my broken wreck of a life for His perfect one. I would be so grateful if someone bought me a Rolls Royce in return for my broken down Vega. I would take such great care of that Rolls and do exactly what was asked of me. This is precisely what I was being offered with my life. I just have to keep faith that it’s real.
What’s really frightening is how many people I know now were praying for me. There are people who don’t truly believe in God’s omnipotence, who won’t follow Him themselves, but have asked Him for my welfare because that’s what’s right. There are solid Christians who’ve been pleading with Him for a long time for His hand in my life. There are those I’ve never met who’ve unwittingly prayed for me in asking for those around me. God has answered all of them, even though most of them will never realize what an impact they had.
Now I pray for strength that I would get up tomorrow morning and walk on, not as a martyr to my dreams, but as a conqueror who just has to mop up before receiving his award ceremony. This is scary as all hell to me – this decision is akin to signing my life on the line of a blank check and giving it to someone I don’t know personally. But I’ve lived quite a while now by His words, and He’s never let me down. So to quote one who’s done the same, “Here I stand; I can do no other.”